FOR someone who likes to create a storm, Sudarshan News editor-in-chief Suresh Chavhanke asserts controversies are absolutely ‘normal’ circumstances for him.
The controversial editor, known more for his alleged hate speeches, often aimed at targeting and demonising the Muslim community, is once again at the centre of a controversy, this time for allegedly giving a call to turn India into a “Hindu Rashtra”.
Addressing a gathering at Ambala, Haryana, on May 1, 2022, Chavhanke administered an oath to the crowd about making any sacrifice to make India a “Hindu Rashtra at any cost”.
A few months back in December 2021, he was booked for his alleged hate speech at a so-called Dharam Sansad organised by the Hindu Yuva Vahini in Delhi. At that event, he had said, “If Hindus survive, then Hindustan will survive, else those who have four wives and 44 children, will leave no stone unturned to make Hindustan Ghazwa-e-hind.”
However, in an affidavit, the Delhi police claimed that his speech wasn’t ‘hate speech’ since “there was no utterance against any particular section/community.”
Dissatisfied with the police affidavit, the Supreme Court sought a “better affidavit”.
But, the man at the centre of the storm himself acknowledges, “Yes, I was referring to the Muslim community; Hindus don’t have four wives. Ghazwa-e-hind is not Suresh Chavhanke’s definition. I don’t have any issues with Muslims, I am concerned about the imperialist expansion of the servants of Allah,” he told India Ahead.
“Ghazwa-e-Hind is an imperialist ideology, not a religious one,” he added.
The Ambala or the Delhi events aren’t the first time Chavhanke was othering a community. In 2017, he disallowed Muslims to apply for jobs on his news channel.
His idea of India often rallies around a nation for the Hindus, by Hindu, of Hindus.
“We take an oath and make a resolution that till our last breath, we will fight, die for, and if need be, kill, to make this country a Hindu Rashtra and keep this country a Hindu Rashtra,” he said at the Delhi event.
However, he is quick to defend his words, saying Maratha warrior-king Shivaji Maharaj had said the same much before him
“I was only reiterating the oath of Shivaji Maharaj which he gave on April 16, 1645, and I’ll keep repeating that,” he told India Ahead
“I am ready to sacrifice my life for ‘Dharm’, ready to die, and ready to kill if someone attacks my religion,” he added.
And then he offered an explanation for his actions. “You are interviewing me now, you’ll go back to your home in a car and if someone stopped your car, you will not defend yourself? You will. In a similar manner, if someone attacks our religion, we will attack back.”
He asserts the Constitution doesn’t permit him to sit back and watch people attack his religion. If anyone tries to transform “Hindu Rashtra” into “Ghazwa-e-hind”, he asserts, he will fight for it and won’t let “Hindustan” become an “Islamic state”.
“Mai churiyaa pehen ke ghar ke andaar baithu? Mai ek jagruk nagrik ke natte larunga. (Should I wear bangles and sit back at home? I’m a conscious citizen and I’ll fight),” he says.
‘Sanatana Hindu Dharma Is The Only ‘Dharma’ (Religion) Globally’
In a constitutional democracy, pro-RSS Chavhanke’s perception will match none. While the first line of the Preamble says, “We, The People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens…”, Chavhanke’s idea of ‘Secular’ is different, “Only Hindu is secular, no other thought is secular. You might see secularism in the sense of religion but, I see it in the sense of morality or duty,” he asserts.
“Dharm toh ek hi hai (there is only one religion) Sanātana Hindu Dharma. Islam is ‘Mazhab’. Christianity is a ‘religion’, isn’t ‘Dharm’. That’s why I talk about Sanatana Hindu Dharma. We don’t talk against any religion but, if they talk against our religion then, we will not sit back,” he added.
‘The word ‘Minority’ Is Playing With The Emotions Of Hindus’
For Chavhanke, the word ‘Minority’ is all about playing with the emotions of Hindus. “The Ministry of Minority Affairs needs to be shut down,” he says, asserting the government should define minorities. “India’s second-largest ratio cannot be defined as minorities.”
He claims to have, in 2005, received a call from the government asking him to avoid using the term ‘Musalaman’ on broadcast and suggesting that he use words like ‘vishesh samudaay’ or ‘minority’.
He claims he then wrote to the government, demanding a list of alternative words that can be used for Muslims.
“We are in 2022, the ministry hasn’t reverted yet,” he claims.
‘Need To Reconsider The Decision Of Our Ancestors’
Chavhanke believes that the decision of his ancestors needs to be revisited, “whether their decision to keep Muslims in India was right or not?”
“India was partitioned in the name of religion; Muslims got Pakistan and Hindus got ‘Hindustan’. Now, after 75 years, if someone asks for Pakistan again, then I need to reconsider the decision of my ancestors; whether their decision to keep Muslims in India was right or not? I want to solve this problem, I know that the partition was wrong but how to rectify that is what I aim to find,” he says.
“After 75 years of independence, India stands with the problem of two nations,” he added.
‘Pro-RSS Journalist Often Misunderstood’
Suresh Chavhanke was 17-years-old when he started working for the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), claiming he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) when he was just three years old!.
He doesn’t feel the need to defend allegations of communally divisive speeches. Instead, he wears criticism as a badge of honour.
According to him, Indian media doesn’t practice ethical journalism, asserting, “A journalist should be naturalistic and virtuous. No journalist in the world is neutral and those who are neutral are called newsreaders, not journalists. Value-based journalism doesn’t exist in India; India only has the influence of corporate and political journalism.”
Chavhanke says, “Sudarshan News is the only media organisation that questions the government and speaks against the decisions of the government.”
He has a problem with Ambani-Adani investing in the news media. “Indian media has foreign investments. Why do we need foreign money? I am not only against the idea of foreign investments in India, but I also oppose the idea of Ambani-Adani’s investment in media. I am against the idea of making journalism a business”, he said.
“When executive, judiciary, legislative is not tagged as a ‘business’, media is the fourth pillar of democracy. Why is media a business?.”
“When I came to Delhi, someone told me to choose a politician and make him my godfather but I said ‘No’. I said god is my father and I won’t make any politician a godfather. I have full faith in God. I will not do wrong, will not do injustice, and will not tolerate injustice,” he added.
Chavhanke’s Ascent In The News Industry
Chavhanke acknowledged that for many years after he started his channel, many people didn’t recognise him as a journalist or his channel as a media organization.
The pro-RSS journalist claims that he has set a legacy for journalism and covered all those issues which the mainstream media didn’t cover. “Say it in support or against, only those issues that Suresh Chavhanke raised since 2005 have got a place in the media, today. The problem is that nobody agrees to accept that my channel’s journalism has been at the top-notch but, that is how we have reached here in our career,” he said.
‘Politics Is Not An Alternate Career Option, Won’t Join The BJP’
Asked if he will ever join any political party, Chavhanke says, “If I had to, I would have joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but, I choose to give my contribution to journalism. The nature of Suresh Chavhanke would go hand-in-hand with journalism. I’m a man who has the courage to speak the truth and is ready to face the consequences. Politics requires more circumambulation than courage and I don’t have such skills.”
Fascination With Brandishing Swords
For him, swords are sacred weapons, “I’m a member of a Kshatriya family, and we worship weapons. In our caste, our wives may have not been with us till the end of our lives but, weapons have always been there beside us.”